Fair Warning: Chrome Team Starts Final Countdown for NPAPI Extensions

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 25, 2014

As we've reported several times, Google is introducing big changes in its Chrome browser, especially when it comes to how the browser handles extensions. If you've regularly used either or both of the most popular open source Internet browsers--Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox--then you're probably familiar with the performance and security problems that some extensions for them can cause.

In late 2013, Google decreed that the longstanding Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI), which extensions have worked with for many years, is the source of many of the problems. And, Google decreed that extensions in the Chrome Web Store would be phasing out NPAPI support.  Now, Google has delivered an update on its plan to remove NPAPI from Chrome, and the hope is that the move will improve the browser’s speed and stability, and limit complexity in its code base.

Google plans to block all plugins by default in January 2015, remove support entirely in September of 2015.

According to the company:

"Currently Chrome supports NPAPI plugins, but they are blocked by default unless the user chooses to allow them for specific sites (via the page action UI). A small number of the most popular plugins are whitelisted and allowed by default. In January 2015 we will remove the whitelist, meaning all plugins will be blocked by default."

"In April 2015 NPAPI support will be disabled by default in Chrome and we will unpublish extensions requiring NPAPI plugins from the Chrome Web Store. Although plugin vendors are working hard to move to alternate technologies, a small number of users still rely on plugins that haven’t completed the transition yet...n September 2015 we will remove the override and NPAPI support will be permanently removed from Chrome. Installed extensions that require NPAPI plugins will no longer be able to load those plugins."

Of course, if you're worried that you won't be able to use your favorite extensions, Google has been vocal about these moves since 2013. Many extension developers are delivering new solutions and workarounds.

The bottom line is that Google continues to move significant parts of the Chrome ecosystem toward the Chrome Web Store, where it can exert control. These moves are going to make some extension developers unhappy, but will probably result in better raw browser performance over time.